Sharks

Nyjer Morgan skates with Sharks Wednesday

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Nyjer Morgan skates with Sharks Wednesday

SAN JOSE It was difficult to determine who was having more fun when Bay Area native and current Milwaukee Brewers centerfielder Nyjer Morgan laced up his skates and joined the Sharks for a portion of their practice on Wednesday morning.

Morgan was clearly having a blast while taking a few shootout attempts on Thomas Greiss, while the Sharks, still glowing from a 6-0 victory over Columbus the night before, were laughing and enjoying one of the more colorful personalities in professional sports hanging out with them for the day.

Would Morgan, a former Western Hockey League player who grew up a Sharks fan while living in East San Jose, be a good addition to the team?

Hes very charismatic, very bubbly, and I think hed fit in great with us, Joe Thornton said.

Would we take Nyjer on our team? You know what, Ive seen his passion and his energy out on the ball field, and if that converts to anything on the ice we absolutely will, Todd McLellan said.

Morgan, who was wearing a black 2 Sharks jersey and named Owen Nolan as his favorite Shark while growing up, actually played seven games for the Regina Pats of the WHL in 1999-2000, scoring two goals and picking up 20 penalty minutes.

For him to ascend to those heights at the junior hockey level, he must have had some talent and some skill, McLellan said.

Morgan, 31, was asked what type of player he was, and what he could bring to the Sharks.

Make it happen, excitement, grind. Be on the third line and make it happen. Same as I am on the diamond. I do what I do. Crowd favorite, Morgan said.

Morgans skating was a bit shaky, but he did manage to convert on one of his four chances against Thomas Greiss, who, lets just say, may have eased up a bit on the final attempt.

He was giving me the stick side, but I saw that five-hole open up, so I had to go five-hole because he seemed pretty strong on that stick side, Morgan said with a smile.

Hes got the swagger, Ryane Clowe said. I liked how he jumped on the ice. He didnt put one foot forward to step on, he jumped on with a ton of confidence, and I liked that.

The timing was good, too. Whether Morgan was there or not on Wednesday, the Sharks were already going to be in a positive mood following their blowout victory on Tuesday night in their first game after the All-Star break.

We earned the opportunity to feel good about ourselves, first of all, with the win last night, McLellan said. To come to practice today and have him around, it lightened up the mood a little bit.

It worked out perfect, Clowe said. You had a big win and great game last night and then this today. Everyone is in a good mood and everyone is loose. Its good. For us, we love it.

T-Plush, as Morgan calls himself, is coming off a career season in which he hit .304. His campaign was punctuated with a dramatic 10th inning walk-off, series-clinching hit in Game 5 of the National League Division Series against Arizona giving the Brewers their first playoff series win since 1982.

Labanc, Sharks overcoming even strength scoring woes

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USATSI

Labanc, Sharks overcoming even strength scoring woes

Kevin Labanc’s first period goal in the Sharks’ Sunday win over the Ducks certainly didn’t look like it was just his fifth of the season, or only his third since opening night.

The 22-year-old, sprung in alone on a breakaway, sold Anaheim goaltender John Gibson on a fake shot with a leg kick, and snapped the puck past him into the top corner. You know a ‘goal-scorers goal’ when you see it, and you saw it 3:38 into the second period.

Labanc not only broke a 12-game, month-long goalless drought, but picked up his third point in as many games after scoring zero in his previous six. Despite his emergence as a force on the power play, all three points came during five-on-five play.

He’s generated six scoring chances in five-on-five situations in his last three games, according to Natural Stat Trick. That’s as many as Labanc accounted for in the six games preceding this run.

The same can be said about his five-on-five shot attempts (seven) and high-danger chances (two). His six shots on goal in his last three games are just one shy of also matching his five-on-five output over his six games prior.

In those categories, Labanc ranks third, third, and tied for second among Sharks forwards, as well as third in five-on-five scoring chances. He’s also tied with Mikkel Boedker for the forward-lead in five-on-five points over the last three games, despite playing only the eighth-most five-on-five minutes.

As Labanc’s broken out of an extended slump, so have the Sharks. Since returning from the bye week on Jan. 13, San Jose is fifth in five-on-five scoring rate (3.1 goals for/60 minutes), compared to 28th before their bye (1.91).

They’re also 5-1-0 during that time.

The Sharks, much like Labanc, were too reliant upon power play production prior to the NHL-mandated week off. Over half of Labanc’s points came with (at least) a man advantage, and 32 of San Jose’s 108 were scored on the power play.

Since, the second-year forward has only scored five-on-five points, while only five of the Sharks’ 23 goals were power play tallies. The power play’s still converting, but it’s not been the sole driver of San Jose’s offense.

It’s only a six-game sample, but the early five-on-five, post-bye week returns are promising for Labanc and the Sharks. The next step for both is to maintain that pace.

If Labanc and San Jose can, the Sharks may not need to shop for a top-six winger at the trade deadline after all.

Sharks dominate Ducks for two wins in two nights

Sharks dominate Ducks for two wins in two nights

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM -- Mikkel Boedker had two goals and an assist, Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist, and the San Jose Sharks beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-2 on Sunday night.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Kevin Labanc and Melker Karlsson also scored for the Sharks, who have won five of six. Aaron Dell stopped 33 shots.

Rickard Rakell and Ryan Getzlaf scored for Anaheim. John Gibson stopped only 17 of 22 shots and was replaced after giving up his fifth goal. Anaheim had a four-game home winning streak snapped.

Four goals came in the third period. First, Anaheim pulled within one when Ondrej Kase stole the puck from behind the net and quickly fed Getzlaf, who fired it past Dell.

One minute later, the Sharks answered when Thornton's slap shot went in.

Boedker's second goal gave San Joe a 5-2 lead, and Karlsson's goal on goalie Ryan Miller made it a runaway.

The Ducks first found the net in the final minute of the second period, but that took a two-man advantage and a bit of luck.

Rakell was camped a few feet below the crease when he snapped a shot. San Jose's Justin Braun stuck out a stick, but it deflected the puck off the back of Dell's arm and into the net.

It was Rakell's team-high 17th goal this season.

San Jose appeared to take a commanding 3-0 lead on a power play in the second period. Boedker fired a shot from the top of the right circle that whistled past Gibson.

The Sharks took a 2-0 lead early in the second period when Anaheim's No.1 line turned the puck over. Thornton snapped it out to Labanc, who popped free for a breakaway. He beat Gibson on his short side for his fifth goal.

The Sharks took a 1-0 lead late in the first period on a nifty give-and-go when Tomas Hertl skated down the far side and sent a pass through the legs of Anaheim's Brandon Montour and right to Vlasic in front of the net.

Vlasic snapped it past Gibson for his seventh goal of the season.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Return to San Jose on Tuesday night to play the Jets.

Ducks: Remain at home to play the Rangers on Tuesday night.